Felicity Gerry QC is an international barrister, academic & media commentator. She is a fearless and effective trial advocate, an expert in murder, rape, abuse, fraud and global cyber law and one of the foremost legal experts which broadcasters go to for media commentary and presentation of international legal issues.
Felicity can be booked for complex trial and appellate advocacy in criminal and civil litigation, mediation, public speaking, conferences and media engagements. Her media appearances include: ABC News and public Affairs, BBC News, Panorama, Sky News, Al Jazeera, BBC The Big Questions, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM & Law in Action, BBC Radio 2, BBC 5 Live & Channel 5. She recently appeared in the BAFTA nominated FGM documentary The Cruel Cut and writes regularly for the broadsheet & legal press.
Felicity to speak at the The Gendered Violence Research Network inaugural Asia-Pacific conference on Domestic Violence in East TimorFebruary 10, 2015
The Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN) inaugural Asia-Pacific conference on Domestic Violence in East Timor,'Timor-Leste: Access to Justice, Just Outcomes and the future for Domestic Violence survivors' is taking place at UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales) in Sydney.
Full information here and here.
Felicity to speak at Nottingham Law School's seminar on 'Human Rights, Law and Religion: Perspectives on the Islamic Face Veil'March 30, 2015
Nottingham Trent University
Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University. The seminar will be co-hosted by two of the Law School’s Research Centres, the Centre for Conflict, Rights & Justice, and the Centre for Advocacy
Tom Lewis, Reader in Law, Nottingham Law School, Director: Centre for Conflict, Rights & Justice
Louise Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Law, Centre for Conflict, Rights and Justice, Nottingham Law School
Jeremy Robson, Senior Lecturer in Law, Nottingham Law School, Director: Centre for Advocacy
Themes to be explored
The seminar will explore the human rights issues surrounding the wearing of the Islamic face veil in the form of either the niqab or burqa. In particular it will focus on the restrictions placed on the wearing of the face veil in public space in some European countries, and the issue of the veil worn by defendants and other participants in criminal trials in England and Wales.
In 2006 the former Foreign and Home Secretary, Jack Straw MP, provoked a good deal of both public criticism, and praise, when he expressed his unease at meeting veiled women in his constituency surgery. Since then, against a backdrop of a ‘crisis in multiculturalism’, religious radicalisation, growth in Islamophobia and international conflict, the Islamic veil has become the subject of intense controversy across Europe. Indeed it has come to symbolise (in the eyes of many) the tensions between a liberal, secular West, valuing democracy, women’s rights and personal autonomy, and an allegedly irrational, repressive Islam whose adherents nevertheless have the right, in a secular liberal democracy, to manifest their religion or belief through the clothes they wear. Views on the matter tend to be cast in terms of a binary opposition: either veiled women are seen as the victims of gender based repression by patriarchal and/or religious elites; or they are seen as champions of female autonomy, choosing to go veiled into a public space in which the sartorial norm tends, much more often, towards the scantily clad. Indeed, the sensitivity of the area is well illustrated by the fact that in 2010 Jack Straw recanted, and apologised for his earlier remarks about the veil.
In recent years legislatures in France and Belgium have made it a criminal offence to venture veiled into public space and there have been vociferous calls for restriction in many more states, including the United Kingdom.
The issue of the face veil has arisen recently in two high profile pieces of litigation. In September 2013, the question of whether the face veil could be worn by a defendant at a criminal trial in the Crown Court was considered in R v D (R). The case prompted much public comment, and led the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, to call for a public consultation on the issue (though, at the time of writing, this has yet to be officially announced). And in July 2014 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held in SAS v France, albeit with significant reservations, that the ban on the wearing of face coverings in public places introduced by the French law of 2011 did not breach either the right to respect for a private and family life or the right to manifest religion or belief (under, respectively, Articles 8 and 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights). It was held that the ban fell within France’s margin of appreciation and was a proportionate response to the aim of ensuring French citizens’ ability to live together (le vivre ensemble).
Despite the intensity of the debate in the law courts and across wider civil society, critically, one of the voices that is very rarely heard is that of veiled women themselves. This is problematic given the fact that, in human rights cases, adjudication of these issues is framed in terms of whether a restriction on a right is proportionate. This analysis necessarily entails an assessment of the relative weight of the individual’s right as against the state’s reasons for restriction. Without an understanding of, or empathy with, the veiled woman’s position¾why is it so important for her to wear the veil?¾it is extremely difficult to effectively and fairly strike the balance between the competing values and interests in play.
The papers presented by the speakers in this seminar will explore these issues, focusing on two aspects: the general issue of legal bans in public space, with critical analysis of the Grand Chamber’s judgment in SAS v France; and, more locally, the way the issue of the face veil has been, and should be, dealt with when it is worn by defendants and others in the criminal courts of England and Wales. The latter issue, veils in court, is inextricably linked to wider societal attitudes towards the wearing of veils in public spaces, involving amongst other things, culture, belief, identity, identification, autonomy and credibility.
We intend to bring together not just academics but also legal practitioners with practical experience of the issues. Furthermore, and critically, one of the main objectives of this seminar will be to invite the participation of veiled women themselves, through links that Nottingham Trent University has with local women’s groups, the student body, and through contacts provided by some of our invited speakers.
Details of Speakers
· Dr Rajnaara Akhtar
· Yasmin Alahibi-Brown
· Professor Eva Brems
· Professor Susan Edwards
· Felicity Gerry QC
· Samantha Knights
· Tom Lewis
· Professor Jill Marshall
· Dr Anastasia Vakulenko
· Jeremy Robson
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